Disinhibition and reward sensitivity in relation to alcohol consumption by university undergraduates

Michael Lyvers*, Cameron Czerczyk, Anna Follent, Phoebe Lodge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
318 Downloads (Pure)


Deficits of prefrontal cortex functioning and associated executive cognitive impairments are well-known correlates of chronic alcoholism and may reflect cumulative effects of high alcohol exposure. However, such associations may also reflect traits predating alcohol exposure which predispose to heavy drinking. In the present investigation, 60 university undergraduates aged 1825 years were administered the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), Frontal Systems Behavior Scale (FrSBe), and Sensitivity to Punishment and Sensitivity to Reward Questionnaire (SPSRQ). All participants reported they were at least occasional drinkers who rarely or never used illicit drugs and had no reported history of head injury or neurological problems. All were sober at time of testing. AUDIT total scores were positively correlated with both FrSBe Disinhibition scores and SPSRQ Reward Sensitivity scores. The latter were negatively correlated with age at onset of regular alcohol use. High risk drinkers (as defined by AUDIT) had higher FrSBe Disinhibition and SPSRQ Reward Sensitivity scores compared to low risk drinkers. Findings indicate that even in a highly selected subset of young adultsundergraduates attending a prestigious private universityassociations may be present between indices of prefrontal cortex dysfunction and alcohol consumption, perhaps reflecting traits that predispose to heavy drinking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)668-677
Number of pages10
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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